Monday, March 1, 2010

When The State Legislature Becomes a Platform Against Your Ex-Wife

Posted By on Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 11:31 AM

If you follow country music at all, you probably heard something about Sara Evans filing a restraining order last week against her ex-husband, Craig Schelske. If you gave it any thought, you may have wondered what Schelske has been up to this week that might have alarmed Evans. It turns out that Schelske was testifying before the Family Justice Subcommittee of the Children and Family Affairs Committee. You can even watch his testimony (it starts about 18:30). Schelske appeared in support of HB 2916, which seeks to establish equal parenting time as the default custody arrangement in divorce cases. What he ended up testifying about, however, is how he had been vilified in the media, how his then-wife and her lawyer "filed false and salacious allegations" against him, and how he was going to see his wife's lawyer in court in August. And then things got interesting. Rep. Jeanne Richardson asked him how this law would've helped him, if what he said were true. There's nothing in the law that offers any relief to spouses who have been lied about. After all, it doesn't remove "throwing everything we can think of against one's spouse" as a strategy in a divorce case. Even Reps. Barrett Rich and G.A. Hardaway, who seemed to rush to Schelske's defense, conceded that the specifics of his situation would not be addressed by the bill. They tried to steer the topic back on track, even though they argued that his testimony was somehow supposed to shed light on the need to change the broader culture of divorce (or some such nonsense). Still, the takeaway is this. On Tuesday, Schelske gave what legislators acknowledged was mostly irrelevant testimony to a committee and on the public record about what a liar his ex-wife is and how evil her lawyer (whom he named) is. That move prompted Evans to get a restraining order preventing him from making "any derogatory statements about Evans to the media or [making] allegations about what led to their divorce in the fall of 2007." I don't have a lot of sympathy for the folks who are pushing this law. But they had a right to be heard and to have time to testify, and they had a right to field thoughtful questions about how they've been affected by divorce and how they think this bill would make things better for people in their situations. They did not deserve to share their time with a guy who just wanted another chance to attack his ex-wife -- and worse, who wasted his place in the forum giving testimony that even sympathetic legislators admitted wasn't really relevant. That is entirely unfair. Anyway, the people who oppose this bill are set to testify tomorrow. No word on whether any other country stars' disgruntled spouses will be allowed to air their tangentially related dirty laundry.

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